This is a story about how God gave one of our members, Agnes, an awesome opportunity to share her story during a plane flight home. Her obedience to His prompting helped her to see how God can use any situation to plant a seed for Him.
One Sunday at the end of March, I accompanied my husband on a business trip to Detroit but we were unable to travel in the same part of the aeroplane as each other. At the time, my husband and I were following the Daniel fast and so I had ordered a special meal for myself from the airline.
As often happens, those passengers with special diets were served their meals before the rest of the cabin, and consequently, the man to my left struck up a conversation with me, asking if I was vegetarian. I am no stranger to sharing my faith and gladly share anything I can about my God, always trying to do so with grace and sensitivity, respecting the other person’s views. I chose to answer this man’s question truthfully, so I briefly explained about Daniel in the Bible, how he chose to follow a fruits and grains diet and depend on God for his health and security.
Not wanting to monopolize the conversation, I asked my fellow passenger about himself. He shared that he frequently came to Shanghai on business, he talked about his family and we laughed together at how my husband and I weren’t sitting together, and then he asked a bit more about Daniel.
I was able to share the story of Daniel interpreting the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2). The man then told me he had a lot of dreams and in particular one recurring dream that bothered him and we talked about that and what it might mean. The man commented that he would like to be able to have the ability to interpret dreams and I felt bold enough to tell him that this gift is only given by God himself. From this we talked again about Daniel in the Bible and I shared the part of the story where the three friends were thrown into a fiery furnace declaring that God would rescue them, ending their speech with “But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:18).
During this story I started to feel extremely hot. I took off my outer layer of clothing as I continued the story but still felt hot. I felt so hot, I took off another layer, asking my neighbour if he felt warm too, but he did not. I truly felt like I was in a furnace as I finished the story and explained how Shadrach, Meshack and Abednigo walked out from the furnace unburnt, with their clothes unscorched and not even smelling of smoke.
Later my neighbor asked me what music was on my ipod. I admitted that I only had worship music and, as he did not know what that was, I explained. He asked to listen to my instrumental worship music, then told me that he had lost his ipod. I said I had not seen it but he asked if I could check whether I was accidentally sitting on it. I think he thought that maybe I had taken his ipod by mistake, or that maybe my ipod was actually his, and that’s why he wanted to hear the music. I left my seat to use the bathroom and when I got back he said he had found it under the feet of the passenger by the window. I felt that in this small way I had been able to demonstrate to him that I was truthful and a woman of integrity.
We talked some more: about Venezuela, about his home county, about our sports and interests. I wanted to show him that I wasn’t any different to him other than my beliefs and faith. I wanted him to understand that I’m not just a religious person. Many people that have different beliefs follow a religion but do not have a personal faith. I didn’t speak about Jesus as our savior because I wanted to build a relationship with him, not scare him. I related to him about his dreams. We didn’t talk much for the last two hours of the flight until right before we landed when he asked if I had any friends in Detroit. I said that I knew people who were fellow-believers in Shanghai to which he answered, “Now you have another friend in Detroit: me.” We exchanged email addresses and we went our separate ways.
Later in the week when I was in Lousiana with my family I received an email from him. He asked me if I had had any dreams. He explained he had a fire in his home but fortunately no one was hurt even though there was so much damage it would take three months to repair. He talked about the shock of the fire and seemed to be looking to me to somehow understand why this had happened to him. I myself was very shocked especially given the story we had talked about on the plane. I replied to say how sorry I was about the fire, and how glad I was that everyone was safe. I asked him if he remembered the story of the three friends being saved from the fiery furnace and I copied and pasted the whole chapter of Daniel 3 into the email and sent it to him. I wanted him to read the story as the word of God, not just said by my lips, assuming that he would not have a Bible of his own.
I was so excited to have had this opportunity to share with him again, and in a more detailed way. I believe that God saved his family from that fire. I also added in my email that “the fourth person seen in the fire (in the third chapter of Daniel) was Jesus our Lord and Saviour. I hope that in this season of your life that God will reveal himself to you.” I felt that now was the opportunity to give him the name of Jesus. I didn’t want to overwhelm him, just to give him a glimpse.
I didn’t hear from him for many days. I wondered if he was busy or maybe mad with me. I wondered at God, why he would reveal himself through a devastating fire. I prayed and prayed that my new friend would see the goodness of God, would not see this situation negatively. Then, I received an email reply from him. He thanked me for my encouraging words and said we should keep in touch.
I am surprised at how much this encounter touched me. And I am reminded how God has everything planned perfectly. My special diet was what started the whole conversation, and I normally break my fast on Sundays. But now a seed has been planted that will hopefully grow into something much bigger.
Story researched and written by AGIF Storywritter Tifainé Hedgecock